Leo & Claire (2001) Poster

(2001)

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9/10
a solid, well-made, moving film based on actual events
ymklein28 August 2001
I saw this at the Montreal Film Festival, which this year is showcasing German cinema. Leo und Claire is based on a real story, the account of a German Jewish manufacturer who was tried and executed for having sexual relations with a young Aryan woman. But this is really a love story, and the new title, which focuses on the relationship between the man and his wife, Claire, puts the emphasis in the right place. Although Leo was innocent of the charge, he was certainly guilty of being Jewish in Nazi Germany and the film has the courage to deal with the complicity of "ordinary Germans" in the persecution and destruction of the Jews. As well, although the viewer's emotions are gripped by Leo's trial and sentence, no one watching the film will overlook the irony that in some terrible way, he got off lucky compared to what probably happened to his wife and those of his family who were still in Germany, of which nothing specific is known. The participation of Leo's daughter, Lilo, now an old woman resident in Israel, where she lived through the war years, makes the film that much more immediate.
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